Steelhead

In Between Seasons

This is probably one of my least favorite “fishing seasons”. The time between where there aren’t many steelhead around anymore, you’re kind of tired of steelhead, REALLY excited for springers, but there aren’t many of those around either. You end up needing to choose between investing time in maybe catching a couple of steelhead or instead, catching 1 of your favorite fish.

The Cowlitz has been Jeff’s kryptonite for a couple of years. It’s a different type of fishery and it’s not his strongest fishery lol. But, it’s one of the only rivers that we fish that is still open and has fish. In fact, their run is supposed to just be getting started. So, we headed there with the plan of fishing for both steelhead and springers to see what we get. We ended up with just 1 steelhead which was better than our normal skunking, but that effort definitely could have been spent on the Columbia potentially getting 1 springer instead.

We’re not the biggest fan of fishing the same mile long stretch of river which seems to be where most of the fish on the Cowlitz are caught, so we spent a good part of the day fishing around and trying to ditch the crowds. Not that the Cowlitz isn’t big enough to handle it all, it just gets old running the same water all day long, especially when we suck there and aren’t hooking fish all day lol.

We did get shorter rods and are switching to sidedrifting this year for the Cowlitz only. I love bait. I will almost always choose bait over an artificial lure with the exception of a worm. Jeff is a bit more open minded than me, but still, he also is a big bait fan. The Cowlitz fish seem to want a bead or piece of yarn lol. It’s not my favorite place for steelhead to say the least.

Anyhow, we’re both ready for springers so we’ll continue this in between fishing until we start hitting the Columbia and then DRANO!!!

Finally…….A Reason to Celebrate

I PASSED!!!!! I officially passed all of my CPA exams and am free!

I honestly did not expect to pass so I had no special plans to celebrate. Jeff and I fished by ourselves on Saturday which is always a nice change. It’s a bit more chaotic with only us in the sled and that means that we don’t get very many pictures. We have always been a little bit bad at getting up to go fishing when it’s just us so we were naturally off to a late start. It was a surprise to see too many boats at the launch and we were one of the last, but we made it count! We ended up with 6 fish (4 native) and the most incredible weather.

Jeff actually got 4 of the 6 fish because of course, he’s a way better angler and he gets first water all day in the sled. He also decided to throw artificials while I was stuck on bait, because well, that’s what always works. He knew that all those other boats were throwing bait and the fish must be tired of seeing bait after bait after bait while these huge boats run back and forth. Sure enough, he got all 4 of his fish on artificials and I only got 2 on bait.

Sunday, we headed back and didn’t hook a thing for a couple of hours. We even got there on time and were ready with many different rigs to test out. There were only a couple of boats which is probably because of lower/clearer water conditions and we don’t think people did as well as us the previous day. We ended up making some changes and hooked 2 native fish on Sunday. Not quite the fantastic day that we had the day before, but it was the first time I’ve been able to fish with absolutely no guilt. I took a nap each day, slept in the car, fished all day, and got up before him. These are things that I haven’t done in years guilt free.

I can’t describe the feeling that I have. I remember what fishing used to be like before the guilt that came with the CPA exams and it’s all back now. The feeling of being able to disconnect from life. Not caring about what I need to do on my list or what I have to do that night. There is no agenda. And when I fish, I only care about enjoying that exact moment. Only those closest to me and those who have studied these exams know the extent of what it does to your life, your relationships, and your mental well-being. I know that I am young and have a lot of life left to live, but I truly hope this was one of the most stressful times in my life. I am at peace and so incredibly grateful to be able to enjoy life again. Every single minute is not to be taken for granted and being able to spend this time clear headed in our beautiful rivers does this to me. Thanks to all of you that supported me along the way and that told me you’ve been missing my blogs. Having this space to share how my fortunate opportunities right now in my life is very meaningful to me and I appreciate everyone along the way. <3

~Bry

The Good ‘Ol Days

This was my last weekend of total freedom before I get my exam score back and it’s likely back to books. I took advantage of it and fished both days for a change.

There were a few fish caught, all wild fish, and great weather.

I got new waders Friday (very much needed) so I was excited to break them in except, for some reason, Jeff thought it was a good idea to remove them from my truck and not replace them with my rain gear. I did maliciously eat his lunch but after 2 bites I felt guilty and offered it back to him since it wasn’t intentionally. Thankfully, the weather held up most of the day so it was just a bit wet before heading home for the weekend.

I skipped the detailed story of my weekend trip because what I wanted to talk about was the state of our fisheries. Although I’ve fished for over 12 years, I don’t have 20, 30, 40 years under my belt. The “old timers” share stories of how fishing used to be. I’ve always wanted to be a part of “those days”. The fishing hasn’t quite been the same the past two years as it was my first 10 years and I mostly attributed that to my lack of fishing because I was studying but now I’m wondering if we’re coming out of “the good ‘ol days” and moving into a slump. This year I’ve heard from almost everyone that the fish just aren’t here. The salmon never really showed up. The steelhead don’t seem to have hit their peak although the runs are almost over.

Sure, there are good days here and there and maybe there are more during the week when I’m at work, but to hear to many people mention that they don’t know where the fish are and on multiple systems has me wondering if this is the is part of the Ebb in our fish history. Or, perhaps I just haven’t been as lucky as other years and the stars don’t align like they used to on the weekends. I am an analyst and I like to observe and collect as much data as I can before coming to conclusions. The fishery system and the way its managed could take a lifetime to truly understand and I’m eager to free up some space in my head to continue to learn these trends and factors contributing to our fisheries.

~Bry

The Search Continues For The Lucky Hat…

I went out fishing with another new hat this weekend to see if it was lucky. Just in case, I brought a back up. ;)

We started out the day really slow. Nothing for several hours and then I switched the hat. The water coincidently warmed up 2 degrees around the same time. Within 5 minutes of putting on a trusted hat, Jeff’s hooked a fish! He lost it pretty quickly but it was the most excitement we’ve seen so far! Then, within the next pass, Jeff’s uncle Wes was hooked up! He landed a hot little hatchery hen and we had one in the box!

At this point, we definitely were thanking the trusted hat and talking about turning the brand new hat into a “grocery store” hat. I really like this hat so I didn’t want to throw in the towel that easy so I switched it again to give it one more shot.

Jeff hooked up again and it was a nice 14 lb’er! It was getting quite cold again and the fishing pretty much died down so we called it a day and headed home before we got miserable.

We had a friend flake out Sunday so we decided to run errands and I got craft (I have a wedding to plan by July!) but it was so nice to be out once again with no agenda and nothing to worry about afterwards. I didn’t care when I got home. There were no lingering thoughts of other things that I could be doing. I didn’t care about work. I didn’t care about anything except fishing. This is what it’s supposed to be like and what I’ve been missing the past 2 years while I worry about studying. Soon, I’ll be back to this mindset all the time!

I’m still a little bit unsure about my new hat and think I’ll give it another try next time I’m out, but I’m definitely still superstitious about my hats!

~Bry